Public Health Nursing


There are many different programs available for public health nursing throughout the U.S. For someone who enjoys working in a clinic or with ambulatory patients, this is a good nursing position for you. Those working in a public health nursing position provide care to patients who have communicable diseases and they also work with physicians who provide preventative medical care.

Educational Requirements for Public Health Nursing

In order to become a public health nurse, you first need to gain your license as a registered nurse, also known as a RN. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a two year program, and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a four year course. Once the degree is completed, the nurse can go on to take the NCLEX-RN, which will allow them to practice in the field.
Many professional nurses go on to obtain a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, allowing them to function as public health nurse practitioners. To gain entry into these programs, you must take and score well on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Additional courses are offered through professional organizations such as the American Public Health Association (APHA).

Public Health Nurse Certification

In order to gain certification as a public health nurse, you must first meet the eligibility requirements of the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).There are two different types of certification available for those looking to become a public health nurse. If you are an advanced practice nurse, you can apply for the Advanced Public Health Nurse – Board Certified credential (APHN-BC). This is offered to nurses who hold a Master’s degree in nursing or those who hold a Bachelor’s in nursing and a Master’s in public health.

Public Health Nursing Career Opportunities and Salaries

There are many different areas where public health nurses work. Some public health nurses work in health departments, while others work in clinics and outpatient medical facilities. Some nurses in this position work in educational positions or in physician offices to gain insight and provide treatment for infectious diseases.
While public nurses are not as well-paid as critical care nurses, they do lie in the higher income range of those working within ambulatory care nursing positions. The average salary for public health nurses ranges from $39,000 to $70,000 each year, and the amount that is earned depends on degree level, years of nursing experience, and location of worksite.

Job Duties of the Public Health Nurse

Public health nurses work closely with epidemiologists and infectious disease physicians. Typical job duties include administering medications, overseeing epidemiology studies and programs, supervising department staff and healthcare workers, diagnosing and treating diseases, and developing protocols and policies.


ANCC (2013):

APHA (2013):

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